2021/2022 Global Office Interns: Introductions
Hi there! Our names are Christie and Cliona and we are the Global Office Interns for this academic year. We are responsible for liaising with both inbound and outbound St Andrews students and helping to promote Study and Work Abroad opportunities. This encompasses a wide range of tasks, like helping the Global Office organise its promotional events, running the social media accounts, distributing information to students abroad, keeping the blog updated with testimonials and information, and providing peer support, for example with the University’s buddy scheme. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org – please contact us with any questions or queries!
Student Profile: Cliona
Who am I?
My name is Cliona Kennedy and I am entering my Junior Honours year studying French, Spanish and Management. Last year I completed a work placement abroad in France, working as an English Assistant in two secondary schools near Marseille. I will also be going to Spain to study at the University of Valladolid in Semester 2. This semester I will be one of the Global Office Interns along with Christie!
What did I do for my Year Abroad?
I spent my last year working as an English Language Assistant for the British Council in France. I worked in two secondary schools, with children from the ages of 10 to 18 – I was only a year older than some of them! I taught various aspects of English grammar and vocabulary through games and conversation practice and tried to make my lessons with the students fun and engaging. This experience was an eye-opener into the real world of work, and it allowed me to challenge myself in ways I never have before. Despite the many pandemic restrictions, I feel like I still managed to make the most of my time abroad.
What were the highlights?
This is an impossible question to answer! From a working point of view, I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with my students and work colleagues – I was lucky enough to be given classes with pupils who were truly interested in learning English and who wanted to improve their skills with me. I loved seeing how they progressed and improved throughout the year. My favourite activity with them was probably when I made a real-life “Among Us” themed game, with various English “tasks,” imposters and voting rounds – my students absolutely loved it! From a non-professional side of things, even though I was unable to join any clubs or societies due to Covid and I couldn’t visit any museums or monuments, I made sure to find alternative activities. I travelled a lot around the south of France, visiting as many little Provincial villages and larger cities as I could. I went on a lot of hikes and picnics and found a wonderful group of assistant friends, with whom I enjoyed many a Raclette and Wine night.
I was also lucky enough to secure an internship with a language school in Aix en Provence once my work placement had ended and the Global Office helped provide me with a suitable contract and support during my application process. I therefore got to experience a full summer in the south of France once restrictions had ended. This was also my first role in a professional office environment, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
What did I find difficult?
I feel like the most obvious answer would be the difficulties that occurred to due to the pandemic restrictions. I went through two lockdowns during my time in France and although they didn’t close down the schools and my job wasn’t too affected, I definitely cannot say the same for the impact that this had on the rest of my life. As I mentioned before, I was unable to meet many people through sports or social clubs, which impacted my opportunities to speak French and immerse myself in the culture. A 7pm curfew also limited any potential after-work activities even when lockdown had ended. I was lucky enough to be living with other people and so I never felt completed isolated, but it was definitely an unconventional year abroad experience – as was the case for everyone.
Student profile: Christie
Who am I?
My name is Christie and I’m a 4th year Social Anthropology student. I spent last semester living and studying in Copenhagen, Denmark where I was able to take anthropology modules at the University of Copenhagen and learn some Danish language.
What did I do for my semester abroad?
All of the teaching during my time in Copenhagen was online, but luckily I don’t feel this took much away from my study abroad experience as a whole and I still became obsessed with life in Copenhagen! While I didn’t make it to many of the university buildings, I still managed to connect with a lot of other international students through my online Danish class and by chatting to people at the library, etc. I was also able to complete a fieldwork project with Extinction Rebellion Danmark as part of my course, which was so interesting and an opportunity I was grateful for as I missed the chance to complete fieldwork in my 2nd year at St Andrews due to the pandemic.
What were the highlights?
Copenhagen has a very relaxed atmosphere and the city itself is so, so beautiful – especially as most of it is on the water. When I wasn’t studying, I spent almost all of my time cycling around the city and spending time with friends by the harbour, in Copenhagen’s many parks, and driving/getting the train further afield to explore the rest of Denmark. My favourite place to go in Copenhagen was Reffen – a large outdoor street food market with food from all over the world, along with a skate park and often live music – which is situated on the water and is the *ultimate* sunset spot. The Lakes were also somewhere I found myself going back to often – they are situated in the centre of the city and so lovely to walk around (and in winter they freeze over and you can walk right across them which is pretty cool/scary/mostly cool).
What did I find difficult?
It was really stressful organising my residence permit/navigating travel restrictions in order to actually get to Denmark in the first place, but I have to thank the over-prepared, easily stressed elements of my personality here as I started researching and preparing for these things as soon as I was accepted for my placement and it definitely paid off. I think it was especially difficult for me as, due to the pandemic, the requirements were changing regularly so I was never completely sure what I was allowed to do, but thankfully they let me into the country in the end. It was also difficult adjusting to the teaching structure in Copenhagen – many classes were 2.5 hours long and I found it difficult to focus in a lecture for that long, but otherwise I really didn’t experience many hiccups during my placement!